The Bible teaches that “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5) Yes, those who have children are blessed with a priceless gift, a priced-possession. It is a charge that has been given to us to bring them up according to the precepts of God laid down in the Bible. If we bring them up the right way, we should be able to proudly say: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.” (Proverbs 3:1)
In our modern world, one is likely to retort, how can sound teaching prolong one’s life? It probably should be regular exercise, frequent visits to the doctor and watching what you eat. Remember what the Bible teaches that the word of God is “…a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” (Psalm 119:105) without which we would stumble. When our hearts are in control, when they become the nerve centre of all we do or say then we are guaranteed success; then we are on the right diet for life.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (verse 5) Having trod that path before as parents, it shouldn’t be difficult for us to lead our children safely through the narrow road, so that they also may be overcomers one day. Having been through similar circumstances ourselves, we can easily talk about the pitfalls to avoid. We must be able to share with them the lessons that experience has taught us. What better way to prepare them for life.
What role has the child to play in this? Co-operate, listen and trust that their parents are seeking a better tomorrow for them. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves as a father the son he delights in.” (verse 11) At the time we are being punished for our wrongdoing and stubbornness, we sure do resent it. We are bitter to the point of sulking even. It is time that we realise that it is for our good tomorrow, when we are away from under the wings of papa and mama. If you love your child, you will have to punish her/him in other not to lead her/him to destruction. Listen to this; “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
Children ought to obey their parents. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honour your father and mother -- which is the first commandment with a promise – that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3) That is how God wants it to be.
The prodigal son decided he was adult enough to explore the world - at an unripe age; when he knew absolutely nothing about the traps put on the way. He left home to a ruinous end and returned all broken and disgusted with himself. His rebellion had cost him a lot; primarily that no one owed him a living and that the world was not a football he could kick around. His so-called promised land evaporated before his very eyes and he could not understand how. Yes, he escaped from under his parent’s wings too early. Solomon sums it up in these terms: “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” (Proverbs 28: 7) Nevertheless his father was ready to take him back in spite of his mistakes. His elder brother didn’t like the welcome reserved for an extravagant son. He became judgmental.
Partiality of parents
Very often a child’s behaviour is a reflection of the treatment s/he received from us. We are partial in the way we relate to them. In the Old Testament we read of the story of Isaac loving Esau and his wife, Rebekah, loving Jacob. “Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons.” (Genesis 37:3) Visible preferences by parents are breeding ground for enmity and discord in a family. The fault is not always with the children.
Look to no other
The bottom line is that it is not easy bringing up children nowadays. The devil is out to grab them, society’s enemies too -teenage sex, illicit drugs, pornography, violence and television - are laying claims as well. So be in the front-line. Don’t give them to any psychologist or psychiatrist; be an active participant in the development of your children. They are an invaluable investment. Take the blame for your failure and start doing something about it. Save them before they get all wrapped up in society’s tentacles with habits that they cannot easily extricate themselves from.
Above all, pray for your child - and all children for that matter - because their peers have immense influence on them. It takes one bad potato to contaminate all the rest. He may be a problem child; she may be ungrateful tomorrow; may even run into a lot of trouble or be a total mess, but don’t give up on them. No never! Love them anyhow. In your helplessness look to no other, rather turn to God not to a psychologist or so-called expert. Ask God for help and He will gladly offer it. Commit them daily to the Lord and see them “…grow in stature …in favour with the Lord and with men.” (1st Samuel 2:26) It is natural that we should want the best for our children. Nothing short of the hand of God can perform a miracle on your child. Trust the love of God for the answer.